Mighty Mike McGee’s Performance Poetry Checklist
Questions to ask yourself and your new poem!
Does this poem need to be performed? Can it truly be performed or does it live better on paper?
• If it is indeed a performance piece, how does this topic actually make you feel?
• What happened in your life that fits that feeling?
• How do I intend to make the audience feel?
• Do I want the audience to empathize, sympathize or feel guilty through my performance? (Example: If you feel happy and you want them to feel happy, you should actually appear happy or exude joy throughout your performance. The idea that we can direct an audience how to feel about us in three minutes is mostly false.)
• One of the laziest emotional routes we tend to lead our audience is guilt. Is there any point in my performance when the audience is likely to feel shame or guilt? Is it imperative to the delivery of the poem, or am I doing it to ensure a higher score in a poetry competition?
• While the movements and emotions need to be bigger in order to register on stage, how can I minimize theatrics and level my voice in order to get a more natural performance out of this poem? Am I too quiet? Am I screaming?
• Outside of spoken word and poetry, whose performance work and skill do I look up to most? Why? What is it about their performance abilities I appreciate most? What can I learn from those traits?
• Which spoken word artists inspire me most? Is it the quality of their writing or their performance, or both? What do I take from that with each observation of their work? Am I directly copying people I admire?